HP Envy X2: Always Connected, And Almost Always A Satisfying Experience
It's a connected world—except when it isn't. Sure, there are a zillion (well, 280 million, according to Statista) free Wi-Fi hotspots around the world, and we're all almost always tethered to some device or another. But what about those times when you need to be connected, but aren't? Perhaps when you're on the road in a remote location, when you can't find a Wi-Fi hotspot, or when it's simply inconvenient to do so. Well, that's the problem always-connected PCs aim to solve. They're machines that use the practically ubiquitous cellular network to ensure that you don't need to worry about hotspots: If you need to get online, whether for work or pleasure, just boot up and your PC automatically connects almost everywhere. It's the holy grail of connectivity.
We took a look at one of the more promising versions of the ACPC, the recently updated HP Envy X2. Using an Intel Core i5-7Y54 CPU, as an alternative to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor used in some previous HP ACPCs, and including 4 GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, the unit is powerful enough for most tasks, including productivity tasks, casual gaming and streaming HD video over both Wi-Fi and LTE. At only 11.54 x 8.28 x 0.31 inches, the Envy X2 packs a fair amount of power into a package almost as slim as an iPad Pro.
The system includes some things for which you sometimes have to lay out more cash when buying a 2-in-1, including a decent (but sometimes laggy) stylus and a flexible keyboard/cover combo. The keyboard generally worked well—just as good and as responsive as any keyboard you'll find on a mid-price traditional Ultrabook, but packed into a very thin, lightweight faux leather case that adjusts to several angles and does a fine job of protecting your $1100 investment while on the move. On the downside, that thin keyboard means that it can at times feel a bit too flexible, so it doesn't always feel stable and comfortable in your lap. Like many other hybrid detachable devices, you're better off using the Envy X2 on a desk or coffee table to keep it stable.
|Processor||Intel Core i5 1.2GHz (Max 1.61GHz)|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
|Display||12.3" HD WUXGA (1920 x 1280) pen-enabled touchscreen with Corning Gorilla Glass|
|Graphics||Intel UHD Graphics 615|
|Storage||128 GB M.2 SSD|
|Memory||4 GB LPDDR3-1866 SDRAM|
|Audio||Bang & Olufsen, dual speakers|
|Camera||HP front-facing Wide Vision 5MP IR webcam, HP 13MP rear-facing camera|
|Networking||Intel 802.11b/g/n/ac (2x2) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 Combo with WWAN, Intel XMM 7360 LTE-Advanced Mobile Broadband Module|
|Ports: Left||USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, Smart Card Slot (FIPS 140-2 Level 3 Certification), 3.5mm headset/mic combo|
|Ports: Right||USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, microSD card slot, microSIM slot, 3.5mm headset jack|
|Keyboard||Full-size backlit chiclet keyboard/case combo|
|Extras||HP Digital Pen (included)|
|Weight||2.71 pounds (tablet + keyboard/cover)|
|Dimensions||11.54 x 8.28 x 0.31 inches (293 x 210 x 7.9 mm)|
|Price||$1,149.99 as tested - Find It At HP.com for less|
The display is a sharp 1920 x 1280, 12.3" diagonal WLED-backlit slab of multitouch-enabled Corning Gorilla Glass. Glossy as it is, the display does tend to pick up fingerprints, especially when detached from its magnetic dock and used in tablet mode, but as with most such displays, those clean up easily enough. Though if you're picky, like me, you'll want to have a microfiber cloth always at hand. Of course, the Envy X2 features some pretty wide bezels, which makes using the slab as a tablet fairly easy, and helps keep your grubby fingers off the actual display area most of the time.
Speaking of tablet mode, there's something pretty satisfying about running a full version of Windows 10 on a tablet (the Snapdragon version ran Windows S); with the included stylus (stored in a loop attached to the outside of the keyboard/case), it's easy enough to navigate via pen clicks and drags, and you can drag the on-screen keyboard up when needed. As a tablet, it's a bit heavy though: 1.72 lbs. for the slate, and with the keyboard/case attached, you're up to about 2.53 lbs. It's definitely usable, but holding the Envy X2 in tablet mode can get tiresome; it's a far cry from an LTE-equipped 12.9" iPadPro, which comes in at 1.53 pounds. The .19 lb. difference doesn't sound like much, but it you can feel every ounce of it when you're standing in line at the coffee shop or lying down on the couch trying to read a digital book over an extended period of time.
Audio is always an issue with machines like this as well, but the tiny Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers on board here are surprisingly good—nothing that would compare to a soundbar or a good BT speaker while watching a movie, of course, but decent enough to listen to while playing your favorite songs or streaming the latest episode of that series you just can't live without. And let's face it, you'll probably use headphones while you're out and about anyway—I hope.
The HP Envy X2 is relatively free of bloatware. It includes a few unobtrusive HP utilities (HP ePrint for wireless printing to remote printers, HP Audio Switch for switching between speaker and microphone sources, and HP Connection Optimizer, which automatically switches between the most efficient available wireless access points), as well as a 30-day trial version of McAfee LiveSafe. The only other things cluttering up your desktop are preinstalled copies of the Netflix and Dropbox apps.
Finally, at $1149.99 MSRP, the Envy X2 isn't cheap, but it's a well-built machine that in most ways compares well to some similarly priced systems, including the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and the Lenovo Yoga 920. However, this machine adds LTE connectivity to the equation and that's a big plus.
In this piece, we're going to explore what the experience was like travelling with an Always-Connected PC to see if it is worthwhile to consider such a device and whether or not the convenience is worth the expense and other trade-offs.